Azdak is the village scribe/recorder. He can also be described as:

  • Intelligent / wise / skillful / knowledgeable

He is knowledgeable about the political affairs of Persia. He narrates to the iron shirts about the country’s political turbulence and how the citizens were suffering.

During the appointment of a new judge the iron shirts are impressed by his intelligence and select him as the winner. He wittingly and skillfully sings the ‘song of injustice in Persia which talks about the evils in their country such as injustice, corruption, inhumanity and poverty.

He is also skillful in court when he reprimands Grusha for telling ‘lies’ to the court and yet he rules in favour of her. (p.93) Azdak’s intelligence reaches its climax when he comes up with the idea of the Chalk Circle. Through this, he is able to identify the woman who cares more for Michael.

  • Authoritative

He authoritatively orders the old beggar to stop snorting and to stand still and once he discovers that he is a fraud, he orders him to eat cheese like a poor man. He also shows authoritativeness when he hands out his sentences in court. He admonishes Shauwa and orders him to go home and repent.

  • Considerate / judicious / sensible

A considerate person is one who listens to what others have to say before making a decision. Azdak is considerate when he gives chances to each party, in his courtroom, to tell their side of the story. For example, he allows the Natella’s lawyers to explain their case while also allowing Natella to tell her side too. (p.91)

He is sensible when he refuses to divorce a couple that had been married for forty years and instead divorces Grusha from Jussup. He is judicious when he uses the chalk circle to determine the woman who deserves to be given the child.

  • Discerning / intuitive

A discerning person is one who is able to make small observations about others or things around him/her. Azdak is discerning and intuitive when he notes that the ‘beggar’ is eating like a Grand Duke. (p.64)

  • Humorous

When he learns that Grusha is engaged to Simon yet married to Jussup, he makes a joke that maybe Simon was not good in bed.  When Grusha accuses him of not knowing the law, he says, “There’s something in that. I’m an ignorant man. Haven’t even a decent pair of pants under this gown.: (p.94)

  • Contrite / remorseful

A remorseful person is one who feels sorry for making a mistake. Azdak is remorseful when he discovers that he has given shelter to the Grand Duke. He goes to the city and demands to be tried, “In the name of justice, I ask to be severely judged in public trial. I’m contemptible, I am a traitor! A branded criminal!” (p.66)

  • Persevering / enduring

After the war is over, he is caught by the iron shirts and Farmers who beat him up and tear up his clothes off his back. He is pushed back and forth until he faints. He, nonetheless, perseveres all these and still wipes himself to take the judge’s sit. (p.89)

  • Insolent / abusive / disrespectful

He insults the old man after he discovers that he’s not a beggar.  He calls him a “…walking swindler! Peasant, flogger and a leech.” He even calls Shauwa an animal, “I couldn’t hand over a bedbug to that animal.” (p.65)

He refers to the Ironshirts as dogs, “You, you dog! Good morning, dogs! How goes it, dogs! How’s the dog world?” (p.89) this is after they beat him up.

  • Selfless / self sacrificing

He sacrifices himself to be tried as a traitor for harboring a fugitive in his house. He considers himself a traitor for letting the Grand Duke escape and orders Shauwa to take him to the capital to be tried.

  • unscrupulous / undisciplined

he handles his case is a peculiar manner. For example, he sits in the judge’s chair peeling an apple and he even at one time listens to two cases at one go. Sometimes he hears cases out of court and his chair has to be carried. He presides over a case at the tavern while drinking some wine. He sits on the book of law instead of referring to it. he, at times, sits on the floor (p.83) and fines people randomly, for example, Grusha is fined ten, twenty, thirty and finally forty piasters.


Azdak represents the voice of reason and social justice by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. His role can be described as:

  • Plot development – Azdak contributes to the plot by sheltering the Grand Duke and performing as a judge. He is the one who finally determines who will take Michael and he manages to divorce Grusha from Jussup.
  • Character development – through Azdak, other characters are developed, for example, Shauwa, the Grand Duke, Ironshirts, the Lawyers, Grusha and Natella.
  • Theme development – themes such as Justice, self sacrifice, betrayal , social class inequality and political turbulence are developed through him.
  • Style development – he contributes to the development of styles such as: play within a play, irony, satire, humour and songs.


  • Identify and illustrate the character traits of Shauwa.
  • Identify the role of Shauwa

Next character :  Arsen Kazbeki (The Fat Prince)

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Albert Obuya
Albert Obuya
5 years ago


Albert Obuya
Albert Obuya
5 years ago

Azdak, the Peoples judge, appears as a fool, a clown, a court jester or even a trickster but in the end, he is seen as the wisest character in the play. He alone leaves behind memories of his reign. His reign is remembered as a “brief golden age” and a period of justice. His idea of justice for the deserving is very interesting. His intentional ‘error’ in divorcing NOT the OLD couple but Grusha and the ‘dying man’ she had married for survival is brilliant!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x